‘This Is a Bad Time to Build a High-End Gaming PC’

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Joel Hruska, writing at ExtremeTech: It’s not just a question of whether top-end hardware is available, but whether midrange and last-gen hardware is selling at reasonable prices. If you want to go AMD, be aware that Ryzen 5000 CPUs are hard to find and the 6800 and 6800 XT are vanishingly rare. The upper-range Ryzen 3000 CPUs available on Amazon and Newegg are also selling for well above their prices six months ago. If you want to build an Intel system, the situation is a little different. A number of the 9th and 10th-gen chips are actually priced at MSRP and not too hard to find. The Core i7-9700K has fallen to $269, for example, and it’s still one of Intel’s fastest gaming CPUs. At that price, paired with a Z370 motherboard, you could build a gaming-focused system, so long as you don’t actually need a new high-end GPU. The Core i7-10700K is $359, which isn’t quite as competitive, but it squares off reasonably well against chips like the 3700X at $325. Amazon and Newegg both report the 3600X selling for more, at $400 and $345, respectively.

But even if these prices are appealing, the current GPU market makes building a gaming system much above lower-midrange to midrange a non-starter. Radeon 6000 GPUs and RTX 3000 GPUs are both almost impossible to find, and the older, slower, and less feature-rich cards that you can buy are almost all selling for more today than they were six months ago. Not every GPU has been kicked into the stratosphere, but between the cards you can’t buy and the cards you shouldn’t buy, there’s a limited number of deals currently on the market. Your best bet is to set up price alerts on specific SKUs you are watching with the vendor in question. There is some limited good news, though: DRAM and SSDs are both still reasonably priced. DRAM and SSD prices are both expected to decline 10-15 percent through Q4 2020 compared with the previous quarter, and there are good deals to be had on both. […] Power supply prices look reasonable, too, and motherboard availability looks solid. If you don’t need to buy a GPU right now and you’re willing to or prefer to use Intel, there’s a more reasonable case to be made for building a system. But if you need a high-end GPU and/or want a high-end Ryzen chip to go with it, you may be better off shopping prebuilt systems or waiting a few more months.

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